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International Humanitarian Law

Learn how international law regulates armed conflicts, protects individuals in wartime, and guarantees minimum compliance.

There is one session available:

34,843 already enrolled! After a course session ends, it will be archived.
Starts Oct 4
Estimated 12 weeks
4–12 hours per week
Self-paced
Progress at your own speed
Free
Optional upgrade available

About this course

Skip About this course

Armed conflicts have always existed around the world. Unfortunately, recent events have shown that this phenomenon is becoming increasingly complex, especially with respect to some legal issues, such as:

- The definition of combatants when terrorists are involved in the hostilities.
- The detention by rebels of State armed forces.
- The involvement and status of UN peacekeepers in armed conflicts.

This course will help you understand these complex legal issues by teaching you the norms governing armed conflicts, also known as ‘International Humanitarian Law’ (‘IHL’).We will address these issues in light of recent practice, including the fight against ISIS and Al-Qaeda in different regions of the world, as well as other recent and older conflicts, such as those in Armenia, Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, and the Israeli-Palestinian one.

The course will provide essential theoretical and practical knowledge for students, researchers and academics who wish to specialize in International Humanitarian Law as well as professionals, including members of NGOs, involved in armed conflict situations, or even members of armed forces.

In this course, you can choose between an audit (free) track and a verified track ($150 fee).

The audit track

  • Proposes a general approach to International Humanitarian Law (it’s a master level law course so learners with poor knowledge on this subject may have to work harder to understand the materials).
  • Assesses your mastery of the relevant concepts through multiple choice questions that avoid complex and controversial issues.
  • Implies a workload of about 4-7 hours/chapter

The verified track

  • Offers a deeper and more complex learning experience: detailed considerations and developments on controversial issues, additional videos and readings.
  • Assesses your mastery of complex and controversial issues through more complex MCQ, case studies and peer review assignments.
  • Offers a staff graded final exam.
  • Implies a workload of about 8-12 hours/chapter.
  • Delivers a verified certificate (in case of passing final grade) and allows you to pursue the International Law MicroMasters credentials.

At a glance

  • Institution: LouvainX
  • Subject: Law
  • Level: Advanced
  • Prerequisites:
    • Knowledge of the fundamentals of International Law (subjects and sources of International Law/principles governing international responsibility). Such knowledge may be acquired by the successful completion of International law.
    • In addition, students should be familiar with the requirements of graduate-level courses and should preferably have already followed some law courses in order to be familiar with legal concepts and legal language.
  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English
  • Associated programs:

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • Decode and analyze in depth complex issues related to armed conflicts
  • Understand the philosophy and logic underlying International Humanitarian Law norms
  • Be able to propose constructive solutions in light of the evolution of the nature of armed conflicts and the legal norms applicable to them

Week 1: Introduction
Introductory remarks about International Humanitarian Law, including the relationships between law and armed conflicts, a brief history of that Law and its relations with other branches of International Law.

Week 2: Sources and subjects
Analysis of the sources (treaty, custom and jus cogens) as well as subjects (States, international organizations and armed groups) of International Humanitarian Law.

Week 3: Scope of application
Qualification of situations of violence as armed conflicts and analysis of the temporal and geographical scope of application of International Humanitarian Law.

Week 4: Conduct of hostilities
Analysis of the norms regulating the conduct of hostilities, including the prohibitions to target persons and objects, the prohibitions to use weapons and methods of warfare and the obligation of precaution.

Week 5: Protection of persons
Analysis of the norms regulating the protection of persons in time of war, notably the wounded and sick people, the captured combatants and the civilians, including in time of occupation.

Week 6: State responsibility
Introductory remarks on the implementation means of International Humanitarian Law and analysis of State responsibility mechanisms in case of violations of that Law.

Week 7: Individual responsibility
Analysis of the national/international/hybrid mechanisms for the punishing of individuals responsible of war crimes.

Learner testimonials

Skip Learner testimonials

"Overall an intense but very rewarding course. Many thanks to the organisers. The course materials were very helpful and the first set of multiple choice questions were surprisingly tough. I feel much more equipped to deal with this area of law now that I have completed this course."
-A learner on Coursetalk

About the instructors

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners residing in one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. edX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.

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